I’ve gone on about the Count before, and it’s no secret that I admire what that undead dude does for the sake of civilization. This time, I’m going to go way out there and let people know what I’m all about.
There’s this DVD that came out, known by the illustrious title of Every Other Day Is Halloween. Basically, the changeable and fantastically talented core of which Count Gore is but one manifestation—near as I can tell an ordinary human being known as Dick Dyszel—is admitting the passage of time in order to let his story be told.
The movie on this disc tells the story of how Mr. Dyszel found himself a central figure in a local broadcast station, playing several inspired characters, before the forces of mediacrity moved in and demanded tribute in the form of the bottom line.
Along the way, you see how Mr. Dyszel inspired people with his individual and honest outlook, as personified by the characters he played and the shows he hosted—Bozo the Clown, Captain 20, and Count Gore De Vol.
Certainly, there are other folks behind the scenes who contributed to this outburst of creative depiction on local programming. And the spirit of the seventies no doubt played a part in what locals in the Washington DC area remember fondly as “better times”.
Peak times to be sure, and total respect to the unsung efforts of those who get things done, but it always starts with an individual carrying a vision, or a talent, or a way of existing in space-time that shows us what we have lost. How to adjust our course and return to ourselves. The true genius constellates those talents and circumstances necessary for raising our consciousness.
So what experience do you get when you buy into this examination of an inspired man’s exploration of himself for the betterment of the community? Quite a lot, actually. Though, with any localized phenomenon, there are going to be experiences that only those who lived through it will get.
However! Keep in mind that the treasures waiting to be discovered are in and of themselves examples of the finest art and of inestimable value to those who seek insight. Surprises and secrets await those who quest with an open heart, who can hear what has gone before and dare to recreate what may yet be again.
The cover itself is an enigma easily dismissed as an attempt to downplay the contents—Count Gore presenting a can of steaming offal and garbage, while caricatures of other horror hosts float around the vapors with comical expressions. Horror hosts have often hidden behind a veil of humor in order to make their performance less threatening and more acceptable to societal antibodies. This is activism at the base—always speak in the terms familiar with the audience you find yourself before on any given show.
Look more closely though, past the sadness that is self-depreciation and see the truth behind the images. One has only to know that in many fairy tales it is the worthless thing—the junk—that one finds the most important things of all.
If the hosts are masked in humor, one has only to know that we the audience are always the biggest joke of all. In that realization there is humanity and redemption—the host always throws us the viewer back upon ourselves to realize the awesome horror and painful glory of being alive.
Opening the case, one cracks open a casket of horrors, yet also proclaims that they live! Passing beyond the threshold, one finds a Channel 20 Club card amongst the expected insert and disc. Yes, there is something of the child in all of us who desire to belong to wonders great and beautiful. In the local DC area programming of Channel 20, such cards were a visible sign of divine power and a reassurance that magic was abundant.
That the coprorate centers of power regularly co-op such toys of civilized play to encourage “loyalty” to mechanized food outlets is proof of their inherent inventiveness. Artists, entertainers, and magicians all know the way to reclaim such treats, for is not the card part of the trickery that conceals the true magic in the mind? Beyond a doubt, Captain 20 knew the card trick to remind us how such small things matter.
The disc itself contains the movie, and a veritable infectious fungal colony of extras. Most of these will be of easiest value to those who remember. Yet pay attention and you will see how improvisational television programs work. How character and setting contribute to situation even in a fluid dynamic such as a studio for viewers.
Variety acts thrive on this sort of transformation—commercials, contests and cartoon blocks are mere forms to be molded and rearranged at will. Green muppet mutants, friendly adults dispensing worthy advice from the heart, or showing manga style programs way before the mainstream caught on—these are the stuff of which legends are made manifest. Do we not save the world as audience when we remember ourselves, or as performer when we remind others with our smoke and mirrors of the human spirit?
The movie itself contains a story of an intrepid entertainer’s journey from rough ore to final realization. What strikes me most is how grounded and ordinary Mr. Dyszel appears. One can almost see the grandiose and unstoppable force of his shadow as personified by Count Gore De Vol lurking in the background.
Is that not the supreme mystery and absurd irony of our times? That only in the nicest and most unassuming of men could a creative force arise to spark the flames of a thousand and one hearts?
When one is confronted with the simplicity and utter banality of a sock puppet wearing a chef’s hat speaking kitchen wisdom to us with the utmost sincerity, do we not believe? It speaks volumes for the depths of our own souls, whether we respond with kindness and smiles or turn away in revulsion.
Pity those who see only the surface and not the invention of a lone soul progressing his art beyond a mere tool. They are the unfortunates consigned to make programming decisions from a vast distance.
Another key point worth noting is how the story progresses into the horror host phenomenon. This is where Mr. Dyszel fumble-foots into a trove of glittering gemstones and becomes part of a signifier for a deeply relevant art form’s transmutation.
Exiled from mainstream television, only to return and finally be banished again, Mr. Dyszel would seem too nice to survive such a crushing blow as the loss of all he held dear—the beloved figurehead of a local television station yanked from the stage, how contemptable! Nevertheless, Mr. Dyszel continued his exploration and found in himself the ability to manifest studio in a backpack.
As a result, Count Gore spread his creative power into the Internet, and now no longer needs the station to transmit. Vanquish the shadow, and he returns again in a new form requiring that we reckon with him once more. We cannot escape ourselves!
The Internet allows everyone and anyone to be both host and audience, without the coercion and repression one finds in the structure of an impersonal system of power. Such an environment is a natural breeding ground and salon for a revivification of what can only be termed a capsule of catharsis through the ceremonial experience of violation.
Mr. Dyszel’s successful exploration of the ideas within his passionate being speaks for itself. To invent his own show regardless of the trauma and set himself firmly at the next foundation of where all culture will be transmitted in the future?
It is nothing less than stunning.
The movie ends with the closing of a former door and the opening of a new portal to worlds undreamed of. It’s a whole new shared creative space. One might say the monster not only survived, but lived to help spread the horror of a profound mystery to those who will come after us.
The horror host movement seems poised at the edge of a vast unmarked frontier. What the practitioner-audience hybrid will make of it is hard to say—anything goes now. There’s enough history now to form an idea of how things work out of countless trailblazed innovations. The reactions of those who are themselves following personal visions as hosts are worth studying.
For example, I see in the easygoing testimony of Jerry Moore—who manifests as the outrageous Karlos Borloff—an affection for what Mr. Dyszel has accomplished. He gained strength from the things he learned by experiencing himself at play with Count Gore on the tell-a-vision.
It’s enough to make me believe that the medium of late night horror shows not only has returned in a renewed form, but in a sense is better than ever before. One has only to see the de-atomization of the community and the rapid sharing of ideas to see a strange solidarity emerging.
An ancient form of performance taking shape before our very eyes. Watch the movie and learn how profound changes in the world transform the way we experience ourselves as people. That we should owe our very life and soul to a vampire as channeled by a wandering artist of great destiny is truly a miracle of the age.
The key question is: “Did he meant to do that?” Was it part of the act, this death-defying leap into the future? Before you can stop thinking again, the Count is before you, telling a horrible joke to bring it all back around again.